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Last Updated: Monday, 21 November 2005, 09:54 GMT
'Oak death' alert in country park
Infected oak trunk. Image: Forestry Commission
The disease has been found at 526 sites
A plant disease which has ravaged plants and trees in the United States has been discovered at a Cornish country park.

Phytophthora ramorum, known as "Sudden Oak Death", affects a variety of species and has been found at Mount Edgcumbe.

Cases of the fungus-like pathogen were found in Heligan in 2004.

Mount Edgcumbe park manager Ian Berry said they were taking the disease outbreak very seriously.

Susceptible plants

Mr Berry said: "The infection was found in rhododendrons in woodlands after a Defra inspection in September.

"The plants affected were cut out and burnt. Plants nearby are being removed and burnt on site to prevent its spread."

He stressed that none of the park's trees were affected. He also added that no restrictions were being put on visitors to the park.

Mr Berry said: "We feel we can contain it without any need to impose restrictions like those during the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak."

Advanced symptoms

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it was concerned about any outbreak of the disease because it was responsible for the death of thousands of trees in coastal California.

Defra said the disease had been found at 526 sites in England and Wales.

The first confirmed outbreak of the disease in the UK was in April 2002, but the native English oak is strangely not susceptible to the disease; although other popular trees like beeches, conifers, spruces and firs are.

Dying leaves are a classic sign of sudden oak death, but more advanced symptoms include the blistering of the trunk.

In the UK, it has mainly been found on Rhododendron, Viburnum and Camellia plants, causing infection of shoots and leaves.

Disease raises fears for plants
10 Nov 04 |  Cornwall
Battle to save diseased oak trees
02 Mar 04 |  Cornwall
More trees hit by disease
02 Feb 04 |  Cornwall

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